Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
-1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)
The apostle Peter’s audience in the early Christian church had suffered through very difficult times. They had been mocked, criticized, and slandered by their culture. Because of the persecution they were facing, the people were inevitably feeling alone and helpless, especially if they focused solely on their troubles.
So as Peter is writing to them, he compares the devil to a lion, something they certainly would have understood due to their geography. Lions weren’t just observed at a zoo or circus… Lions were literally living in their backyards, and therefore they knew the animal’s habits. Specifically they knew that when a lion is looking for a victim to attack, they seek out the weakest — those who are young, sick or dragging behind.
That’s why its important to know the specifics about the people Peter is writing to. Just like a baby wildebeest on the African plains, these young Christians were vulnerable for attack.
So let me ask this… If I told you there was a lion hiding somewhere outside your doors, crouched and ready to devour you, would that instantly change your actions, decisions and priorities? I would hope so! Suddenly checking the mailbox isn’t as important.
You’d probably even go to extreme lengths to make sure you and those you care about were protected the lion’s attacks… For example, if you found out that giraffe pee was a natural lion repellent, I doubt you’d think twice about carrying a vile of the stuff around with you whenever you stepped outside.
Sure, it sounds excessive. Sure, others won’t get it. Sure, you may get ridiculed. But it’s a whole lot better than getting devoured by a lion, right?!
I firmly believe if we treated Peter’s statement like we really believed it, our lives would look a lot differently. But instead of taking the proper precautions, we snuggle up close to sin and temptation. Despite the obvious dangers, we think we can handle it.
Folks, you don’t pet a lion! Instead you do whatever it takes to safeguard yourself from them, no questions asked.
Once again, we’ve got to take what Peter said seriously… There is a lion on the prowl out there waiting to tear you limb from limb. So be self-controlled, be alert, and resist him by standing firm in the faith.
If not, the next to be devoured might be you.